July 23, 2009

Woman in Bangladesh

GONE are the days when a woman used to be frowned upon for daring to step out of her house to pursue a career. No longer is her job laughingly dismissed as a mere 'time pass'. Shouldering the financial responsibilities of a family is also being accepted in more middle and upper class households, the female garments workers and brick breakers already having claimed respect as bread-winners in working class families.

With greater acceptance, there are now a wider range of career choices available to women. Let's take a look at some of these.

After generations of feeding hungry hordes, the art of hospitality comes naturally to the fairer sex. For those who have a knack for cooking, but not enough finances to really push it forward, one can start small by taking orders for food items for special occasions.

If you possess the location for it, small cafes are great investments. As long as the coffee keeps flowing, a few light snacks and a cosy atmosphere is all you'll need. In this busy city, people will be glad to find a quiet place to unwind.

Finally, if you have the dosh for it, restaurants have great potentials, although they also come with great risks. There's the problem of finding the right location, selecting the right menu, creating a proper ambience, hiring staff, finding an attractive 'hook' or gimmick that sets you apart from the half-dozen other eateries that might be located right on the same road, and there's still no guarantee that you'll float. But if you can get it up and running, though, the dividends could outweigh the risks.

Advertisement and event management
Watch a mother try to convince her child to eat his vegetables, and you know that women have a talent for persuasion. This could be channeled towards fields like advertising. To begin with you must evaluate your specialisation and your ability to deliver with professionalism. In a global environment you will need to create an edge over others. But the key would be the focus on understanding the market; whether you're selling a product, or promoting a brand, you have to know who your buyers are, and what they want. Pushing your brand or product also requires persuasive skills, and one needs to have a lot of confidence and awareness to succeed in this field.

Other than pushing products and brands, the goal could also be raising awareness, be it about an issue, or for a charitable cause, and this is where event management comes in. For these, you bring in the same kind of energy and creativity that you would in ensuring your party makes your neighbours green with envy. Most women are naturally good at organizing such 'do's and drumming up support for their causes, and so would shine in this field.

Books: Almost a hundred years ago Begum Rokeya Sakhawat Hussain was able to publish her book- Sultana's Dream. She was fortunate. It was a groundbreaking event in the history of Bengali literature. As a woman entrepreneur you could support this admirable cause of publishing. Today, other women writers work and contribute favourably to social issues, while at the same time deriving far reaching economic benefits. It would be an ideal stepping stone in the world of publishing. I believe there should be a great deal more women writers sweeping the domain of the literary world. Our culture, language, people, and environment could use more gender perspective. You could publish fiction, poetry or drama that has specific artistic value, or cook books, travelogue, or even books on motivation or homes and gardens that has found enthusiastic readership.

Magazines: This is a business where women have shown leadership with a definite direction. As in the past, this business can target a specific women-centric audience or a larger general one depending on the focus of the work. It is evident especially in Bangladesh that women have shown a more sensitive regard for their own issues than their male counterparts. The scenario, however, has changed somewhat as there is considerable growth in the business and larger publishing houses having taken initiatives with gender specific examinations. Lifestyle magazines with a larger scope for action have done particularly well. In order to launch such a business you must bear in mind that sustenance cannot be accomplished on the sales of the magazine but rather depends on the paid advertisement in the publication. The magazine must divulge on current issues. That is the key to any success.

Journals: There could be more journals on specific subjects. It is a great educational tool. Although fast losing its relevance in the era of electronic media where the Internet plays a significant role, art, industry, trade, medical, educational and other related subjects of serious magnitude could be updated and put forward through journals.

Hair and beauty
Traditionally, beautification has always been seen as a woman's prerogative, one of those feminine things that could be taken for granted. With so much riding on presentation these days, people in the professional sphere have begun to take their appearance very seriously, thus providing incentive for the emerging beauty industry. We have more beauty pageants now, more magazines, more models and fashion shows, all of which has created a growing demand for the hair and beauty industry.

We see spas and beauty parlours mushrooming up around the city, offering all kinds of personal grooming services and treatments. With the clientele becoming increasingly well-informed, the industry is under pressure to raise the quality of its services, so this field, as well as growing in importance, also requires intensive technical training. The need for such skill-development programs has profound implications for the industry. This should be further investigated.

Academic Institutions
Schools: Customarily the teaching profession for women has been embraced positively by our patriarchal society. In the past two decades we have found many schools run and managed by women. The success story of all these women should inspire many more to consider an entrepreneurial activity in developing an educational establishment. I believe there will always be a demand for better institutions.

One could start with preschool activity and work to a primary level. She could slowly build the foundation for a high school. In order to address specific needs of the age based requirements of key stage programmes you must be trained to attain good results and also train the faculty. On many occasions we find inexperienced teachers with colossal responsibilities.

It is the responsibility of the management to provide high standards. The business of teaching is a venerable trade that should always be regarded as a commendable contribution to the society. Educating is a sensitive activity and deserves high regard only if you are providing excellent service worthy of children's needs. Dedication and professionalism is needed to carry out such a venture. If done appropriately there is a potential for exceptional achievement.

Women have the potential for being solid entrepreneurs. Given the opportunity they can be creative and determined executors. We would all like to see more women working in an open market environment that encourages development and financial growth for individuals. A country must progress with all its national components. The women folk are very much part of the apparatus. Women need to gear up to the next level of economic emancipation. They should not just be players but rather take on the challenges of decision-making capacity. They should be involved in more complex planes of business activities. I think we can all agree that their right to civic and social liberty shall always lie with their capacity to pursue monetary empowerment.

Collected from The Daily Star.
Photo: Zahedul I Khan

Destination Bangladesh

A country of pristine beaches, national parks, ancient palaces, mosques, temples, churches and wildlife, Bangladesh is truly one of the most delightful places to visit. Bangladesh enjoys a moderate tropical climate and as a vacationer, you could go riding on the secluded beaches or enjoy an exhilarating trek among the cloud-reaching mountains at Bandarban, as well as a wide variety of other options to choose from when making a travel plan.

You could stay in either a hotel or motel. If however, you were planning to stay for a longer time with friends or family, it would be ideal and more cost-effective to rent out a guesthouse or a flat.

Cox's Bazar- certainly one of our major attractions- is a mesmerising site, which is also the longest stretch of natural beach in the world and has enchanted travellers from across the globe for a long time. The magnificent sights and sounds of Cox's Bazar is a fascinating, awe-inspiring experience.

Sundarbans, "the beautiful forest” is undoubtedly another must see. Here, the land and the water meet in spectacular fashion. The wildlife presents many a spectacle. If you're really lucky, you may come across a Royal Bengal Tiger swimming across the streams or crocodiles basking on the riverbanks. For the horticulture enthusiast, the lover of nature, the poet and the painter, this mass of green forest provides a variety of wonders for which they all crave.

The capital city, Dhaka is friendly and relatively clean in the posh areas. There are many sights to attract visitors. The most essential sights are the Lalbagh Fort, the National Assembly Building, the Baitul Mukarram Mosque, National museum, Savar Sriti Shoudho, Shahid Minar, botanical gardens, the zoo and many more significant places to enjoy.

You can get cheap deals on flights to Dhaka throughout the year, and once there, the cost of living is considerably low, making Dhaka, and Bangladesh as a whole, amongst the best value destinations in the world.

It would be a good idea to move around Bangladesh with a constant vehicle, so renting a car is a good option. There are many companies offering car rental and hiring services. You could negotiate your rates with them.

Get help from a travel agency to chart out your Bangladesh vacation. They would be in a better position to plan a Bangladesh travel diary for you.

Winter in Bangladesh is a most comfortable season and therefore the ideal time for a vacation.

By Mohammad Shahidul Islam
Photo: Syed Zakir Hossain

Collected From The Daily Star.

Open T Bioscope

Stepping into the shop, you will be engulfed by its warmly illuminated interior. The bold, warm colours on the wall and the dusky lighting rivet a jubilant spirit of fashion.

Open T Bioscope has been creatively designed to embodythe essence of traditions. Rather than Barbie doll mannequins, the shop has customised figurines, keeping local clay dolls in mind, so that every Bangali girl can familiarise oneself with it.

Open T Bioscope is the brainchild of two vibrant architects- Muslima Nazneen Khandakar and Suriya Zabin. The shop came into being with a view to setting up a common platform where ideas can be toyed with playfully and nurtured into reality. It serves as a stage for rising designers to showcase their creative experiments.

The shop is artistically set apart into two distinct wardrobes - Sultana and Bibiana - carrying clothing lines, and Shaheb Babu Boithokkhana- a room with crafty, wooden interiors showcasing decorative household accessories.

The product line caters to two different styles; one focusing on the everyday, casual and to some extent formalwear, and the other focuses on a glamorous clothing line designed exclusively for special occasions. “Sultana” is designed keeping the preferences and tastes of young vibrant females in mind, and “Bibiana” is geared towards the penchants of females in the mature age bracket.

For fatuas and shalwar kameez that can be used as formal or everyday wear, the fabric used is mainly cotton, keeping in mind the comfort factor. The wardrobe changes fabrics with changing seasons.

The summer line mainly consists of cool colours like lemon green, pistachio, bright almond, lilac and ocean green matched with contrasting dupattas and shalwars. The shalwar kameez are available unstitched and also prêt-e-porter. You can also buy creatively designed fatuas or make a three-piece from its own matching centre. The prices of fatuas are from TK 400 onwards.

The “Bibiana” collection consists mainly of saris, casual and formal. The fabric is mainly cotton, endi-cotton, endi-silk adorned with colourful hand-paint, spray paint and glittery danglers at the borders. Vegetable dyed saris are one of the exclusive picks of the shop. The saris are displayed in their entirety, opening up the whole work done on the fabric.

The most interesting section of the shop is “Shaheb Babu Boithokkhana”, a wooden panel consisting of three stair steps. At the very bottom, customers can sit and try on ornaments. The middle stair consists of household materials such as hand-painted kathas, pillows in creative shapes like dice, envelope, drum, vegetable dyed bed sheets, silk bed sheets, etc. The very last stair leads to the trial room.

This part of the store is created to give the customers a vibe of comfort as if in their own boithokkhana (living room), where they can have a friendly chat, select the dress materials, try the ornaments on, etc.

Adds Muslima Nazneen, “Open T Bioscope is not aimed at making profit, it is rather aimed at bringing out the creative roots and nurturing them. There are lots of talents who don't get to steal the show due to lack of a proper platform. Open T Bioscope is that platform for them; a platform for any and every kind of artist/ designer to host their creative products. I want them to play with their ideas and that's exactly why I named the shop Open T Bioscope, to play away with their creativity just like the childhood song: Open T Bioscope; Nine ten teiscope; Sultana, bibiana; ,shaheb babu boithok khana…"

Address: Open T Bioscope, Shop #422, Metro Shopping Mall.

By Zannatul Lamea
(Collected from The Daily Star).